Many have addressed the various aspects of the Syrian crisis, including its political, economic and social implications, but the demographic issue has not received the attention it deserves, in spite of its importance for the development of the reconstruction process, which must rely on reliable statistical data on the availability of resources, including human resources.
One of the main repercussions of the war in Syria is on the country’s demographic situation; on the human bloodshed resulting from direct military operations; on the number of deaths; on temporary or permanent disability; on the displacement within and outside the country; on the imbalance between rural and urban areas; on the decline in the birth rate, and on the deteriorating environmental situation.
This has resulted in waves of internal displacement into zones under the control of the state, in foreign migration to neighboring and European countries, and in a large decrease in the number of workers in the agricultural sector. While mechanization has an increasing important role in agricultural production, manpower remains crucial for the cultivation of various crops and Syria's demographic bleeding will have a major impact on food security.
Many factors affect demographic growth, including marriage rates, births and deaths, and migration, and although there are updated statistics and surveys on the demographic growth factors, one should look at the determinants of demographic growth in light of the continuing war.
Marriage rate: The war has led to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes, and to the displacement of millions of people towards areas that are still under the control of the Assad regime. This has created a serious problem for finding decent housing and many of both sexes are now reluctant to get married, which has a clear impact on birth rates.
Mortality rate: The number of victims from the bloody Syrian conflict has directly raised the mortality rate. In addition, the decline in services provided by the public health sector and pollution resulting from the primitive oil extraction and refining techniques of some armed opposition groups has created a serious environmental problem, contributing to an increase in the mortality rate.
Based on government and UN data, Syria’s population growth rate between 2000-2005 amounted to 2.08 percent, jumping to 3.4 percent between 2005-2010, then dropping to 0.67 percent between 2010-2015.
Population growth between 2020-2025 is projected at 1.43 percent and will continue to decline until it reaches the level of 0.80 percent between 2045-2050. We can imagine the extent of the risks for Syrian society knowing that the rate of growth which ensures a renewed society is a minimum 2.1 percent, meaning the issue must be immediately and seriously addressed.
The Syrian migration crisis has also become an important issue, with more than 4 million Syrians leaving the country for neighboring countries and Europe, pointing to a decline in the size of the country's population which will be difficult to compensate for.
In Europe, a number of countries are attempting to deal with low population growth rates. In Germany, the population growth rate sits at 1.8 percent, pushing a lot of German strategists to urge the government to develop plans to attract migrants in order to make up for the shortfall in the labor force. Germany is now seeking to attract the Syrian labor by granting facilities to refugees.
The demographic issue raises a set of challenges to Syria that cannot be overlooked, and requires short, mid and long-term planning to deal with it properly. We need to evaluate the current situation by collecting data and analyzing it, in order to identify opportunities and challenges, and strengths and weaknesses, leading to the establishment of plans commensurate with the available human and financial resources. The continuation of the demographic bleeding represents a threat to the future of the country and the ability of the Syrian society to renew itself.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.